Wednesday, May 29, 2013

Such a world

Every once in a while the world we live in jumps up and gives us a shake that says, ‘This isn’t your grandparent’s planet.’  

Indeed, last night just before heading to bed I switched over to NASA television and there, on recent delay, was Karen Nyberg, the newest American resident astronaut of the International Space Station, floating among her crewmates 200+ miles off the planet talking with family back in Kazakhstan, the place she had left just a few hours prior on her launch into space.   I mean, human beings living in space?  That’s an idea my grandparents only read about in Jules Verne-type science fiction.

But it was a couple other events yesterday that got me to thinking about how much the world has changed in a just a lifetime or two.  

A month or so ago, an Audubon friend sent along a magazine article by Julie Dobrow of Tufts University about none other than Mabel Loomis Todd, the original editor of the Emily Dickinson poetry and subject of the book I’m trying to write.  In the course of this article about Mrs. Todd and her daughter, Millicent Todd Bingham, I read that Dobrow had read Mrs. Todd’s journals and diaries, something she is rather famous for in literary and historical circles, on microfilm while at home in Boston.  

Hmm, thought I.  I had planned on investigating said journals and diaries for my work, too, but figured I’d have to spend days in New Haven at Yale’s Sterling Library doing it.  If I could get that material here in Dayton, I could surely spend lots more time checking out what Mrs. Todd was thinking and writing in 1908 when she set about buying most of Hog Island with a friend.  

Indeed, with assistance from Dr. David Dominic at Wright State, I was able to secure a few reels of the available microfilm and have spent many hours over the last month sorting through what Mrs. Todd was up to way back then.    Let’s just say I’ve learned lots of stuff from that reading and took many notes in the process.  I am confident the chapter about her and her husband David Todd’s establishing Camp Mavooshen on Hog Island will have more informative anecdotes that I could have put together a month ago. 

And then as I settled down at my computer late yesterday afternoon, I thought I’d check in on Rachel, the osprey sitting on eggs high atop Hog Island, via the camera.  And it hit me that this is surely not any capability my grandparents, or parents for that matter, ever had.  

I mean, here I am in Dayton, Ohio, reading the personal writings of a woman who’s effects are archived in New England, while at the same time watching a live camera feed of a wild animal incubating eggs on the very island the New England woman loved enough to purchase and save in largely a wilderness state.  

Modern communication has made this world such a place, you know?  ;-)
Within the next couple of days I will be updating my other blog, The Dressy Adventuress, with some stories from this last month’s reading of Mabel Todd’s journals and diaries.  Please check it out at:

Today’s elder idea:   Mrs. Todd wrote a line or two in her diary every day.  The last entry was written by her friend, Howard Hilder, marking her death on Hog Island, 14 October 1932: 
After a morning spent in happy diligence, the end of an honored career of brilliant activities came suddenly soon after noon.  Dear, gallant soul, adieu!

image:  Computer screen shot from this morning of Rachel, the mother osprey, keeping the unhatched kids warm.